Sunday, January 28, 2007

Inflexible People Annoy Me

Inflexible people annoy me. It’s not that they’re inflexible that annoys me really, it’s just that the only way to deal with inflexible people is to be inflexible yourself. That’s what really annoys me… that they force me to be something I dislike. Inflexible people want it their way or no way at all. I think that sometimes there can be changes to how things are done, but my stubborn nature in the face of inflexibility forces me to be inflexible even though I don’t believe in what I’m being rigid about. The problem is that inflexibility works and it’s the passive people who help make it work. It’s by others making compromises that inflexible people get their way. Perhaps it makes me inflexible when I stand up to people who are inflexible. Where’s the line between being adaptive and not being a pushover? I’m sure it exists in the minds of people, but one adaptive person is another’s pushover.

Passive people annoy me as well, but then again I’ve become irritable lately. I think my rigidity is causing me to be chronically inflexible, this is the disease that is passed on really. However there’s just no way to stop it. If you let inflexible people do what they want then their rigidity triumphed. If you stand up to them and hold on to your guns too obstinately then the disease has been passed on to you.

Back to passive people. They annoy me lots because they let people get away with whatever they can. They’re very short sighted and think that by letting things slide they’re doing the world some good. They feel that by being quiet they should be commended since they’ve saved a ten second scene or something of that nature. Passive people may have good intention, or may have cowardice, but one thing is for sure, they don’t have hindsight. How can they? And I’m not talking about difficult to reach hindsight, they just don’t understand the future or consequences of what they’re doing today, or maybe they just don’t care.

I’m annoyed by passive people because they give up their rights very often, but even though it’s their rights, it’s not their right to forfeit them. I’m not annoyed by them giving up a right, but I’m annoyed by the consequences of this sort of behavior. They make it a norm for people to give up their rights. They make those who abuse rights think that it’s okay to do so. They make people behave in such a way such that they’re sure that others will let it slide so as not to cause immediate trouble. I’m certainly most annoyed by the fact that my rights go down the drain a lot easier.

There’s a certain kind of wisdom called patience that can look like passiveness, but there’s one difference; patience is waiting for a moment to take a proper action while passiveness is letting the moments pass you by. Silence is better if it doesn’t help to speak, but sometimes it’s just plain laziness. It’s easy to give up your right, but if you look at it from a different perspective, it’s not only your right but also the right of those who will follow. How then can you just give it up? It would sense to give it up because you don’t care about all those who follow, that I can accept, but that contradicts giving it up in the first place because you would have to care about the people who violated them so as to give them up.

But like I said, I’m generally irritable these days. The world is full of very irritating things and irritating people but all that should not get to me. After all, life is not about what happens around you, but about how you feel about it. If I can stop these things from annoying me, then I can be the winner. If I can feel indifferent about passiveness and inflexibility, then I can win, but if I feel indifferent about them doesn’t that imply that I can become passive? I think it can make me not want to make a change since I don’t feel strongly about it. What then is the point of standing up for something if you’re dispassionate about it?
Is there a way to feel strongly about something and not let it get to me? I’m certain there must be.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Enemy Drums

I woke up to the sound of drums,
But they were not music, they were bombs,
Yet with precision was the rhythm of their sound,
Every two seconds, three would hit the ground.

Four of my neighbor’s five children died,
And amidst the bombs the one that survived,
Buried his siblings all day long,
Wondering what it is they did wrong.

The sound of bombs muted our own,
And this was no longer for us a home,
But there’s no escape from where we are,
The helping hands and hearts are far.

But it wasn’t that which choked our souls,
Hearing the news was like eating burning coals,
Five were wounded from the enemy’s side,
While one hundred of my neighbors died.

Yet the story of those five was written in one large page,
Condemnation was bitter and it was told with such rage,
And the hundred were mentioned in half a line,
Any tears for us just had to be dried.

We’re dying but terrorists is what we’re called,
They play their drums, but with us the world's appalled.
The voices of hundreds who died, unheard,
The pleading of wailing mothers deferred.

The news, it burns, it tells the enemy's story,
And it seems as though they suffer with glory.
But in our land we’re slaughtered and killed,
And their lust for murder is never fulfilled.

So hear my voice or let me die,
Listen to my truth and decide if it’s a lie,
But don’t keep me waiting for too long,
I’m dead very soon, but I’ll take others along.

I’m a rat in a cage, tortured without end,
The torturer kills and for help he will send,
He will cry like a victim and torture me again,
Strong are his allies and feeble are my friends.

Not a word of those four children was said,
They’re sleeping in their graves, their killer in his bed.
Those innocent dead are criminals in the world’s eyes,
And still the drums keep beating with lyrics made of lies.

Monday, January 22, 2007

My Cat Is Deaf

My cat is deaf and it can’t hear anything. He has a name, ‘junior’ but it’s not of much use since I can’t call on him to come or anything. But it’s still comforting to give him a name that he doesn’t understand to refer to him, after all, I do talk about him and I do talk to him even though he doesn’t hear. There’s some hidden benefit to him having a name that’s not directly visible.

But the thing is that sound does not exist for him. I used to feel sorry for him, but a friend of mine said, “Why should I feel sorry for him? God created him that way.” He’s a white beautiful cat and sometimes those white beautiful cats are born that way. I don’t feel sorry for him because he doesn’t feel he’s missing out on sounds. His world exists using one less sensory perception, or one less dimension.

Another reason I don’t feel sorry for my cat is that as humans we may be living happily with a similar lack. There may be some things that exist out there that we just can’t perceive, can’t pick up, can’t sense. We may have some clue to it, but it doesn’t seem to exist in our world. When I whisper in junior’s ears he can feel the air out of my mouth but not the sound. When I snap my fingers he can sense the movement or even see it, but not hear it. He has clues to its existence but he would not know what it means to hear. He can only see my lips moving and my hands yelling, but he can’t hear me.

I don’t feel sorry for my cat because humans are deaf too, and some of them claim that no such thing as sound exists. This narrow thinking, based only on what we can capture, reminds me of creatures who lack certain senses but cannot compensate. My cat might be deaf, but it’s no fool. Wish I could say the same about all other humans.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Like a very young child whose arms were raised and holding on to the hand of a loving adult in a crowd, safe and not alone but then forsaken. Disconnected from that loving hand, and left wanting of a loving embrace was she, as she saw the crowd shifting away from her so that in fact she felt so alone despite the proximity of the crowd. This is exactly how she felt, alone in a crowd reaching out her arm to find emptiness in place of a loving hand to guide her and hold her, without a loving heart to love her or a warm embrace to hug her. She felt all that with one small variation, she felt all this without the recollection that there ever was a hand to hold hers or an embrace to hug her or a crowd that ever once surrounded her.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I’m Stupid

Driving through the crowded streets of Cairo, a friend of mine and I got stuck in a small deadlock while trying to go through a one and a half car two-way street. One guy could have just backed off completely and solved it all, but instead, he just held up traffic and kept trying to go forward until, inevitably, he had to reverse into an empty space so that others including himself can move.

This jam was responsible for us running a bit late and so I maneuvered my way through the streets till the main street was at hand. Now as I was approaching the main street, towards the end of my one way street another car came in. Seeing that it was my way and that he had some space to back off (and that the main street was not crowded so he wouldn’t be clipped) I just paused and checked if he would go into reverse. After a little gesticulation and shouts muted by his own windows, he finally backed off enough for me to pass.

As our windows got nearer, he said very calmly, “By the way, you’re stupid.” As I was telling him that he was stupid as well, my friend was said, “It’s true”. He was telling me that I’m stupid because he’d just made a turn and that I had more space behind me, my friend agreed that I was stupid because that man had to back off a bit into the main street and I was saying that he was stupider because he went down a one way street in the wrong direction.

I’ve always thought that the person making the mistake was supposed to provide the solution, but he and my friend seemed to agree that I’m stupid because I didn’t put in an extra effort to correct his mistake. They think I’m stupid because I obstinately and idiotically thought that the road rules were on my side. They think I’m stupid because it would have cost me less effort than him to fix his mistake.

I thought that my friend didn’t know it was a one way street and that it wasn’t stupidity but rather a principle, so I made it clear and this is how my friend replied, “So what? Everybody does it.” Well then that makes it okay I suppose. I must be stupid indeed. It’s alright that people aren’t accountable as long as someone else can fix their mistakes. It’s alright that people break the rules as long as everyone accepts it. It’s alright to accept things as they are because that’s life… I remember in Alexandria before the roads were fixed, people would cross over to the other side speeding and flash their lights at people going in the correct lane so that they move out of the way. I always thought it was only courtesy to get back in the correct lane if you weren’t able to make it… but I guess I was wrong.

I think I am stupid really for thinking that courtesy ever plays a real part in life apart from its existence in books and literature, it’s not deal with your consequences, it’s have people deal with your consequences. Accept things cause everybody does it… well, I guess I really am stupid and that I stand alone in thinking that it means something to stand for something. I stand alone because at the end even though my friend said, “Sorry for the offense,” she added as she left the car, “but you do know that it's two against one.”

Thursday, January 04, 2007


24 is a brilliant TV show. I’ve always wondered, ever since watching a movie by the name of ‘Nick of Time’ why they don’t shoot some movies in real time where events can be seen as they happen. Well almost a decade later they did it with 24. The best thing about 24 is that it’s (almost) in real time. Each episode is just one hour and we can see what happens in that hour. It’s a real thriller too; you get entangled in its mesh provided you watch something like 3 episodes in a row.

Anyway the other night it was showing, Jack Bauer was hot on the terrorist’s trail and CTU (counter terrorist unit) had arrested someone who was their only lead to reach a terrorist who was trying to acquire a nuclear missile. Apart from the fact that it seems so easy now for individuals to acquire weapons of mass destruction, there was something else I found intriguing.

The man they arrested was a retired US marine who they suspected to have been a mercenary. He had no priors. So in order to hinder his interrogation, the terrorist (whose name is Marwan.. surprise surprise) calls ‘Amesty Global’ and asks for a lawyer so that CTU don’t torture that man into divulging the information that can lead to the capture of Marwan. That got me thinking of how far advanced Human Rights are to be able to have one lawyer easily obtain a court order so as not to violate this citizen’s rights. Are human rights organizations so powerful everywhere in the world? In Egypt it would take a phone call from the president to stop an act of torture, not just a simple phone call to any Amnesty. Human rights mean nothing in Egypt unless stated otherwise, totally unlike other places in the world. I’m not saying that this is the way it is in America, but I’m saying that it’s highly plausible that an American with no priors is saved from torture just by a phone call no matter how important he is to a case and how unimportant he is as a human being.

So anyway, after the lawyer had been sent, they call up the president since it is a matter of National Security asking him to intervene and let them do their job. The president fears to sanction such torture (yeah right!!) and asks them not to. At this point, with this only lead and their conviction that this man can provide them with information to save lives they had to reluctantly let him go, but good old Jack resigns and takes him on as a citizen.

Now the question here is: Can we sanctify torture if we’re sure that we can get positive results from those being tortured? There is no question that our rights (constantly violated over here) are important and that no man should be subjected to torture, but the situation described puts us in a dilemma nevertheless. In cases like these there seems to be a reason for torture, extracting answers that will save lives. After all, it’s not fair that terrorist should use these means on people and that when caught they get a five star treatment. Where’s the justice in that?

The trouble is that sometimes we should not be too rigid about our standards. I mean it’s great that we accept the right not to be tortured for everybody, but if breaking that rule meant saving thousands of lives, I would suppose that it should be acceptable. In any case it’s very hypothetical really, since we can never know what people actually know and what they don’t. In general it’s better to let the guilty walk free than torture the innocent and that’s why laws of human rights are there in general, so that we do not risk hurting the innocent. It’s just a very hypothetical question and I suppose it remains a matter of opinion if it is really worth it…